We had to break down some walls to build low-carbon housing

An inter-disciplinary taskforce at the University of South Australia’s Barbara Hardy Institute is influencing environmental sustainability in urban developments across Australia. In fact, it’s now an acknowledged world leader in the transition to low-carbon housing.

In collaboration with industry and government, UniSA researchers achieved a 74% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within Lochiel Park (compared to the average Adelaide home in 2004).

The Research Node for Low-Carbon Living combines researchers from a range of disciplines who might not normally collaborate, including science, mathematics, statistics, engineering, social sciences, economics, architecture and design. But it’s not just breaking down walls internally: it’s also working in partnership with the construction industry, resident communities, and local, state and federal governments as a partner in the Cooperative Research Centre for Low-Carbon Living.

One example of the team’s real-world effectiveness is at the Lochiel Park Green Village in Adelaide’s north-east, created in partnership with Renewal SA: a sustainable living development of over 100 dwellings, from studio apartments to four-bedroom homes.

The research node was involved from the project’s inception, writing the urban design guidelines, and has continued by undertaking long-term monitoring of the residents’ energy and water use. The results suggest that if Lochiel Park’s low-carbon standards were adopted across South Australia, the state would save $1.31 billion over 10 years.

With every dollar invested in low-carbon homes bringing $2.42 of economic gain, and important bodies of work like the Garnaut Climate Change Review and the National Energy Productivity Plan both advocating for increased energy efficiency, projects like Lochiel Park are setting the standard for future living.